How do you find the best travel insurance?
It's never been more important to get the right travel insurance in place with your holiday booking - but policies are probably less straightforward now than they've ever been.
To help, we've analysed hundreds of policies, scrutinising over 52 areas of cover in each one.
As well as using our research to find the right insurer for you, doing the following will help you get cover worth owning:
Casting a wide net is always advisable when searching for insurance. Using multiple comparison sites to do so is a great start - however, some of us will need to look further afield to find affordable cover.
We've provided tips on how customers with medical conditions can locate difficult-to-find policies, as well as reviews of specialist providers that don't always lie on the beaten path.
- Find out more: travel insurance for pre-existing medical conditions
Arrange your cover quickly
When you buy a policy, you're not just paying to protect your period of travel - you're also covering unexpected situations that prevent you from setting off. Make sure you have cover in place from the point you've booked your trip.
Check the t&cs
Few of us enjoy reading insurance policy wording, but being acquainted with it is the only real way of understanding what your policy offers and what it doesn't.
If there are specific reasons you've bought the cover, check these sections to make sure they align with your expectations. Also check the policy's general exclusions and conditions. If anything in the policy is unclear, contact the insurer.
What are the best travel insurance policies?
We've compared over 250 travel insurance policies to bring you our best and worst travel insurance tables.
How we analyse travel insurance
We analyse and rate 52 key elements of travel insurance policies to come up with the overall policy score. We assess how important each individual element is to travellers when choosing and using a travel insurance policy, and weight it accordingly when calculating our total policy score.
Initially, we score all of the product elements out of five, reflecting how competitive each provider is in this area compared with other insurers. Weightings are then applied to the higher and lower element scores to enhance/reduce their impact on the overall policy score.
Table last updated in June 2021. Next update in June 2022.
- Find out more: check our in-depth reviews for detailed breakdowns of cover
Which policies offer the best coronavirus (Covid-19) cover?
If Covid-19 interferes with your holiday plans or travel, almost all policies offer some protection - but the extent varies wildly, and it can be far from clear what different providers mean by 'Covid cover'.
To help, we've rated the levels of Covid protection offered by over 80 insurers, and have awarded Which? Covid-cover ratings to each. The policies detailed have received one of four ratings: Basic, Low, Superior and Complete.
The best and worst policies for Covid cover
These details are correct as of May 2021; we recommend checking directly with the insurer before buying a policy. All ratings are for policies available to new customers.
What our Covid ratings show and don't show
Our ratings are intended to give a general idea of how extensive each policy's Covid cover is, and key areas in which policies differ.
To derive them, we've examined which policies provide cover under five specific scenarios - a customer requiring emergency medical treatment while travelling, needing to cancel because of a positive test, having to cancel due to being instructed to self-isolate without a positive test, and cancelling because of changes in FCDO advice or a lockdown where they live.
The ratings don't cover other potential ways the pandemic could interfere with travel. There can likewise be differences, with some areas of cover, between policies that have the same Covid rating. This means it's crucial to check the terms of any policy before buying it to make sure it's appropriate to you - as there will always be some restrictions.
- Find out more: Members can view more detail about cover in our reviews
What Covid cover is available?
Practically all policies provide cover for a coronavirus-related medical emergency (Basic cover) - but around one in seven won't cover cancellation if it's connected to the pandemic.
Most also provide some element of cancellation cover if you can't go on your trip because you've been diagnosed with Covid-19 (Low cover).
Much rarer are policies providing cancellation cover if you can't go on your trip because you've been told to self-isolate without having tested positive - for example if you've received a test and trace notification from the NHS (Superior cover).
Just two firms in our survey (and under 1% of all policies examined) confirmed they offer Complete cover, which means you can claim if you can't go on your holiday due to a change in advice from the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO - formerly the FCO) or because of a regional or national lockdown.
In both cases, these must be new advice or restrictions - i.e. not in place when the insurance was purchased or the holiday booked (whichever is later).
- Find out more: check the latest FCDO advice
Will travel insurance cover changes to the government's traffic light system?
Whether your destination is on the green, amber or red list will have an effect on measures you'll need to take and costs you may have to pay when travelling internationally or on your return to the UK. Countries can change lists with little or no warning.
At present, even the most comprehensive travel insurance policies are unlikely to be able to cover you against all potential costs - or your decision to cancel a trip if your destination is moved between lists. However, as the situation is complex and evolving, you should check directly with the insurer.
How else can you protect your holiday?
When it comes to Covid-19, for now, most insurance won't do the full job of protecting your travel plans.
This means you should consider supplementing it with other protections. It's also important to note that travel insurers expect you to claim with them only if you can't recover your money through other channels.
Package holiday companies
If a package holiday firm cancels your holiday, or airlines can't fulfil flights, you're entitled to a refund by law.
Unfortunately, in the wake of Covid-19, not all travel providers fulfilled their legal obligations. For peace of mind, choose a firm that is one of our Which? Recommended Providers.
- Find out more: Your legal rights with package holiday companies
If you buy a package holiday that includes flights from an ATOL protected firm, you'll get your money back if it goes bust. You'll also be repatriated if this happens while you're on holiday.
- Find out more: how do I know if my holiday is ATOL protected?
Your credit card provider
If you can, pay for your holiday with a credit card.
If you pay with a credit card for services costing more than £100 and less than £30,000 that aren't provided as advertised, you can claim the money back from your card supplier if the seller (ie the holiday company) won't refund you.
- Find out more: Section 75
Banks have similar schemes to help you recover money for services that haven't been fulfilled as paid for. These are known as 'chargeback'.
Chargeback can be used to recover debit and prepaid card payments, as well as credit card payments below £100.
Banks aren't legally bound to do this in the same way credit card providers are under Section 75, so you should always pay for amounts over £100 with a credit card if possible.
- Find out more: how to use chargeback
How we find the best travel insurance policies
In April and May 2021 we surveyed 86 insurance companies about 52 different areas of cover from each of their policies. We analysed the data and awarded each policy a Policy Score.
A high score indicates that overall, the policy has comparatively high levels of cover. However, when using our tables, you should bear in mind the following:
- Travel insurance is complex - which means that even if a policy has a high score, it may not include certain elements of cover that you're looking for. You can see at a glance in our tables how policies compare for Covid cover and a selection of other key features - but for detailed breakdowns of how providers have earned their policy scores, see our full travel insurance reviews.
- The Policy Score doesn't examine the insurers' customer service or how much their policies cost.
- The data was collected in April and May 2021 and we'll continue to update it as we become aware of changes. However, we recommend confirming directly with the providers before buying.
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